The History of Government Primary School for Boys - Bewal
Story and pictures by Zahid Hussain – Bewal and Saudi Arabia
The grand new building of Government Primary School – Bewal, is one of the first sights that will strike any visitor to Bewal. Have you ever wondered how and why such an imposing school building (probably the most modern primary school building in district Rawalpindi) came to be built? Have you ever wondered about the general history and origins of this school? Pothwar.Com presents a detailed history of this model school of tehsil Gujar Khan.
Government Primary School for Boys was first set up in 1860 during the British rule of India. After the First World War, it was upgraded to a Middle School in the year 1920. The school was further upgraded in the year 1958 to become a High School. In this year the High School was moved into a separate building next to the Primary School. From it’s founding in 1860 to the partition of India in 1947, many Hindus and Sikhs served as the headmasters of Bewal Primary & Middle School. They include headmaster Sardar Ajit Singh of Choha Khalsa and headmaster Sardar Gobind Singh Saha of Jand Mehlu.
Following the creation of Pakistan, Muhammad Sparas became the headmaster of the school. He belonged to Gulliana, a large historic village of tehsil Gujar Khan. Following the retirement of the first Muslim headmaster of the school, Choudhry Akbar Hussain of Dhera Kanyal served as the headmaster for a long period of time. Master Rehmat Hussain of Morrah Hafyal served as a teacher in the late 1950’s and made significant efforts in improving the standard of education. During this time, Choudhry Muhammad Alam of Dheri worked closely with the headmaster Akbar Hussain to build a large hall for the school and several new classrooms on a self-help basis. They also tried to refurbish and improve the premises of the school as much as they could. After this, Choudhry Muhammad Khan of Dhera Kanyal was appointed the headmaster and a further two classrooms were added. During the following decades, several other distinguished educators went on to lead Bewal primary school as headteachers. They include the following: Choudhry Fazal Hussain of Morrah Bhottian, Lala Laal Hussain of Sohawa, Amir Zaman of Bewal Shehr, Muhammad Siddeeq of Sui Cheemian and Choudhry Iftikhar Ahmed of Dhera Kanyal.
During the term of headmaster Muhammad Siddeeq, several classrooms were refurbished. At this time, the main hall was crumbling and in serious need of repair. Responding to an appeal for help, Doctor Aslam of Dhera Kanyal, who was serving as a local councillor at the time, used the government scheme of ‘matching grant’ to put a new roof on the main hall. Then in 1984, vice-chairman of U.C. Bewal, Muhammad Iqbal of Dheri, used the ‘matching grant’ scheme to help build another classroom.
Due to poor initial construction and lack of proper maintenance, the condition of the school buildings gradually deteriorated over the next 16 years or so. By the late nineties, the condition of the school buildings was so bad, that teachers and parents began to express serious concern about the safety of children studying in such dilapidated buildings. Following the retirement of headmaster Iftikhar Ahmed in early 2002, Ch. Khadam Hussain of Morrah Hafyal was appointed as the new headmaster. Headmaster Khadam Hussain (son of Sowar Khan of Morrah Hafyal) took on the mission of rebuilding the school completely from scratch. He personally met and lobbied hundreds of the wealthiest and most influential Bewalis and drew their attention to the plight of this vital local institution. In this regard, Headmaster Khadam Hussain travelled to England to discuss the project to rebuild the school. It seemed like a mammoth task but Headmaster Khadam Hussain worked tirelessly and set up a school-rebuild committee to assist in the realization of the dream. The committee consisted of:
1. Headmaster Khadam Hussain (Chair)
2. Abdul Majeed (Manjotha)
3. Muhammad Ramzan, also known as Shah Jehan (Dhok Muhammad Khan – Bewal)
4. Choudhry Muhammad Riaz (Manjotha)
After much deliberation and consultation, the committee decided to build a modern three storey building for the primary school which would serve the children of Bewal for at least the next 50 years. With zero contribution from the Ministry of Education and indifference from the local political personalities, the task seemed a mammoth one. However, the committee worked day and night for several years in lobbying the wealthy and influential Bewalis to throw their weight behind the project. The response of the ordinary public of the Bewal region and the Bewali diaspora around the world was phenomenal. People from all income levels contributed to the project generously and helped make a reality of what at the outset seemed a mere dream. Many hundreds of Bewalis (including a large number living in England) made generous donations to the Bewal Primary School project and it is not possible to mention them all here. They all know who they are. However, by far the biggest donor to the project (nearly six lakh rupees) was Muhammed Iqbal Bhatti of Moti Masjid (Takkal) and England.
The teaching staff at Bewal Primary during the rebuilding of the school played their full part in helping to turn the dream into a reality. They were:
1. Master Zamir Ahmed (Dhok Wali – Takkal)
2. Master Sajid Hussain (Takkal)
3. Master Muhammad Ramzan (Sangni)
4. Master Muhammad Arif (Daryala Sehgan)
5. Master Muhammad Nazir (Dhok Hafyal Bhatti)
6. Master Shaukat Ali (Morrah Muzaffarian)
7. Master Zubair Ahmed (Bhagpur – Gujar Khan)